Double Double (Labor) And Trouble

25 May

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
from Macbeth

Scene: A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches…

ALL:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Yes, double Labor equals trouble alright.

Business Spectator’s inimitable Rob Burgess peeks in on a witches brew quietly a-boiling within Federal Labor ranks, now that the detritus of a decimated NSW Labor party machine has begun belly-crawling into Canberra (emphasis added):

Before the NSW election, a senior Labor figure told me of his grave fears for the party nationally once the most important Labor state machine imploded. Suddenly unemployed NSW MPs, and their long-standing staffers – the real machine – would be turning up on Capital Hill in their droves, creeping from chamber to chamber, seeking new power and influence in the federal sphere.

The NSW model of Labor politics would infect Canberra, he warned me, and it could destroy the Labor Party for good

…Labor’s battles are, so far, silent – like faceless men in the night. Bill Shorten, Greg Combet, Kevin Rudd (in the mind of Kevin Rudd) and Wayne Swan all get a mention from time to time. Of these, only the first two look at all likely to succeed Gillard. Privately, some Labor figures mention Tony Burke, though he has some major battles looming on the Murray Darling Basis to take care of first.

But the point is this: with so many displaced NSW, and now Victorian, Labor operatives on the loose, and with Julia Gillard’s opinion poll figures taking the low road, it is only at a matter of time before we begin to see as much leadership intrigue spilling over on the government benches as we are now seeing on Tony Abbott’s side of the house.

To my mind, a challenge to Gillard’s leadership before the next election would all but finish the Labor Party. But then Labor pessimists tell me that the pent up ambition in the Labor’s factional units is too great to contain. The Bracks/Carr/Faulkner review of Labor’s appalling 2010 and the party’s ‘undemocratic’ structure is yet another source of conflict within the party – a good half of the party wish it had never been conducted.

Certainly the knives are being sharpened for a time when, if miracles do happen, Labor scrapes home to form government again. But that is two years away at least. In the meantime, watch for fault lines – now on both sides of the house.

UPDATE:

From the Age:

Labor in crisis as disenchanted desert the party

Labor fears up to one in four of its Victorian members will not renew their memberships after last year’s devastating state election loss and disenchantment with the Gillard government.

And union heavyweight Joe De Bruyn warned that Labor – and civilisation itself – could cease to exist if the party overhauls its platform later this year to accept same-sex marriage.

Mr De Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union and a powerful figure on the Labor Right, has criticised his party for allowing debate on gay marriage to ”fester”.

About 4700 of state Labor’s 12,000 members have not renewed ahead of a deadline on Tuesday. Labor insiders are predicting less than half will make the effort…

One Labor source blamed the federal government for ”trashing the Labor brand”.


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